Kentucky

Is deadly KY pipeline blast still causing health problems? Feds, state to check.

Health officials were scheduled to interview residents Monday around the site of a deadly natural-gas pipeline explosion in Lincoln County to figure out there are potential lingering health impacts of the blast.

The Aug. 1 blast and fire at a mobile-home park near Moreland killed one woman, injured several other residents, destroyed five homes and damaged others. Witnesses said flames shot hundreds of feet into the air and were visible as far away as Lexington.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services announced Monday that a team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would join local and state health officials in Lincoln County to interview residents.

Health officials interviewed emergency responders such as police and firefighters over the weekend, according to a news release.

Don Gilliam, emergency director for Lincoln County, said one reason for the review may have been reports from 12 first responders about breathing irritation they had during and soon after the blast.

The blast and fire churned up dust and ash. Some chunks of charred rock landed hundreds of feet away.

Gilliam said he had not heard about any first responders who suffered lasting, significant health problems as a result of the explosion and fire.

The interviews are a precaution aimed at collecting information for a better understanding of the potential health impacts from the pipeline accident, according to a state news release.

One goal is to figure out if there are any on-going health risks to residents, said Christina Dettman, a spokeswoman for the state cabinet.

Jodie Coulter, whose home was destroyed by the fire after the pipeline rupture, suffered burns as she and her husband escaped. But Coulter said she also has concerns about other health issues related to the accident.

“I’m concerned about everything,” she said Monday. “It just gets scarier by the day.”

Coulter and her husband have not yet found a new home in Lincoln County, and some other residents have not returned to the neighborhood.

Dettman said health officials will work to contact all the people who had to evacuate.

Whatever the physical health effects, some people who were close to the explosion are still dealing with the emotional fallout.

Jason Griffitts, who lives near the site of the pipeline rupture, said one woman who lived near site of the blast is still living at a motel and doesn’t want to come back to the neighborhood, even though the damage to her house was relatively minor.

“It reminds me of PTSD,” he said of residents affected by the blast. “They can’t sleep at night. When they talk about it, you can hear their voice tremble.”

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the pipeline failure. It could be a year or more before the agency decides on the probable cause, but possible corrosion on the 30-inch like is one issue under investigation.

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